Post No.7669

Date uploaded in London – 8 March 2020

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog.

Three interesting things happened with a beautiful courtesan in India two thousand six hundred years ago.

1.Buddha’s meeting with her and accepting her food surprised every one and Buddha’s own clan Sakhyas were disappointed

2.Emperor Bimbisara entered enemy’s territory to spend one night with her and escaped incognito.

3.That courtesan who was named Mango Garden lady imposed five interesting conditions to entertain anyone for one night.

Here is the most interesting story of Ambapali. In Sanskrit her name is Amra Pali ,i.e. Lady from Mango Garden .

There is a very interesting story about the name.

A Shakyan clan noble called Mahanama found a baby girl in a mango garden in the big city of Vaishali. Now that city is in the Bihar state of India. Mahanama was childless and so his wife reared her amid pomp and luxury as her own daughter. When she grew up she became exquisitely beautiful.

There were strict caste restrictions in Sakhya clan. Mahanama can’t give her to anyone outside his clan. So when she was ready to marry, the Assembly of Lichcavis was convened. Everybody waited to see the girl. When she entered the hall all were wonderstruck with her beauty. Each one vied to marry her. It looked like there would be a big fight to get her. At last they decided to own her jointly. It is called ‘Ghana bhogya’. Her father refused to it. But the clever girl came with a proposal. She put five conditions to spend a night with anyone.

What are the conditions?

1.She should be provided a big house in the centre of the city;

2.Only one person can enter her house eachday.

3.Her fee for one night is 500 karshapanas ( very expensive lady; this word is used even today in Tamil as ‘Kasu’ ‘Panam’) .

4.If anyone wants to inspect her house for any reason the government should give her seven day notice and the Administration would be allowed into her house only on the seventh day.

5.There should be no watch over persons coming in and going out of her house.

(Thank God, there was no CCTV cameras or Google watch 2600 years ago).

The assembly accepted all her conditions.

She selected the best house in the best locality of the city. She had the walls of her house painted by an artist with the portraits of kings, ministers, nobles, rich bankers and traders. While scanning the portraits she fell in love with the portrait of emperor Bimbisara and very anxious to meet him

Since her name and fame spread far and wide Bimbisara also wanted to spend some time with her. But there was a big problem. He was the mighty emperor of Magadha Empire. Even Alexander was not ready to enter India 300 years after Bimbisara. But the Licchavi clan of Vaishali was not in good relationship with him. So his ministers warned him not to go to Ambapali’s house. But he boldly went to her house with the help of Gopa, Commander in Chief of the Army. He spent some time with her. However, the Licchavi spies got the information that the enemy in their territory. But they never suspected Ambapali. When they made house to house search Ambapali reminded them the administration should give her seven- day notice. This is one of the five conditions. In the meantime, sensing the trouble Bimbisara escaped in disguise.

When Bimbisara stayed with her for six nights he gave her a ring with his official seal and told her she could approach him anytime. After nine months Ambapali gave birth to a son. When he grew up his classmates were teasing him as an Illegitimate son of a courtesan. Then Ambapali sent him to Bimbisara. In later life that boy became a Buddhist monk and came to be known as Vimala Kondanna.

Ambapali was very successful in her trade and amassed huge wealth.Buddha in his last days came to Kotigama near Vaishali. Ambapali went to pay her respects. She listened to his discourse and became a lay devotee. She invited Buddha with his disciples for lunch in her house. At the same time the Licchavi leaders also came to invite him. But Buddha accepted only Ambapali’s invitation. This disappointed the Licchavis. At the end of dinner, she gave her entire mango garden with its big buildings to Bikshu Sanga, the Buddhist Association.

Some time after this she listened to her own son Vimala’s discourse. She decided to become a bikshuni, monk. She looked at her own body which was beautiful at one time and now became shrunken. She realised the impermanence of worldly existence and attained arhathood. She gave expression to her mind in verses.

She was one of the most famous women of ancient India. Vasanta sena, Vasava data and Ambaplali became famous and was the plot of several Sanskrit dramas and Kanyas.

While Maitreyi and Gargi Vachknavi were known for their spiritual attainments, the above three were known for their sacrifice , devotion and affection towards their lovers.

Ancient Indian love stories were more beautiful than Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra.


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